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Court: Homeschooler Too Religious, Must Join Public School

Uh-oh. A New Hampshire court is ordering a girl to be taken out of homeschooling and put into the public school system because she might be too religious.

As is typical with these kinds of cases it seems to have started with a divorce where the mother, who homeschooled the child, is religious and the father doesn't want the same things for their child. So a court case ensued. That's all sadly typical but the strange thing is the judge's ruling which should shock and worry homeschoolers everywhere.

The Alliance Defense Fund reports:

An Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney filed motions with a New Hampshire court Monday asking it to reconsider and stay its decision to order a 10-year-old home-schooled girl into a government-run school in Meredith.

Although the marital master making recommendations to the court agreed the child is “well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level” and that “it is clear that the home schooling...has more than kept up with the academic requirements of the...public school system,” he nonetheless proposed that the Christian girl be ordered into a government-run school after considering “the impact of [her religious] beliefs on her interaction with others.” The court approved the order.

“Parents have a fundamental right to make educational choices for their children. In this case specifically, the court is illegitimately altering a method of education that the court itself admits is working,” said ADF-allied attorney John Anthony Simmons of Hampton. “The court is essentially saying that the evidence shows that, socially and academically, this girl is doing great, but her religious beliefs are a bit too sincerely held and must be sifted, tested by, and mixed among other worldviews. This is a step too far for any court to take.”


The ruling can be found in its entirety http://www.dakotavoice.com/2009/08/judge-orders-homeschooler-into-public-school-for-being-too-religious/. But here's some quotes for your perusal:
"The counselor found Amanda to lack some youthful characteristics. She appeared to reflect her mother's rigidity on questions of faith...

"The Guardian Ad Litem concluded that Amanda's interests and particularly her intellectual and emotion development would be best served by exposure to a public school setting in which she would be challenged to solve problems presented by a group learning situation and by the social interactivity of children her age. She also concluded that Amanda would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior and cooperation in order to select as a young adult which of those systems would best suit her needs...

The evidence support a finding that Amanda is generally likable and well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising and intellectually at or superior to grade level....

Amanda's vigorous defense of her religious beliefs to the counselor suggests strongly that she has not had the opportunity to seriously consider any other points of view...

The Court has not considered the merits of Amanda's religious beliefs but considered only the impact of those beliefs on her interaction with others both past and future...
This is a worrisome ruling and, I fear, a sign of things to come.

HT Culture War Notes

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30 comments:

Paul H said...

It seems to me that the real problem here is divorce. When divorce happens, courts necessarily end up poking their nose into private details of family life that really ought to be none of their business.

If we want to prevent this kind of situation, it seems to me that working to strengthen marriages and to challenge no-fault divorce would be the way to get to the real root of the problem.

Janelle said...

I was just arguing about this case with a friend at work, thanks for the post. It is remarkably sad that this is allowed to happen.

FamilyMan said...

So maybe they'll start evaluating public kids and advising that they aren't religious enough? You could apply the same reasoning skills...

Sad though, no doubt. After 17 years of homeschooling now, it would be a shame to see this kind of court-mandated reversal.

Home School Legal Defense Fund--join HSLDA.org now!

William said...

Whelp! I'm beyond outraged. Thanks for pointing out HSLDA, FamilyMan.

Rachel B said...

Sick to my stomach.

KC said...

That's just awful.

NC Sue said...

Unbelievable. Another example of inane, insane ruling by the courts, as in the South Dakota decision on abortion. (See http://acts17verse28.blogspot.com/2009/08/clear-as-mud.html)

Dirtdartwife said...

Wow... my 9 year old would be screwed then because she'll defend the faith faster than most adults I know and don't get her started about abortion.

What's horrible here (aside from all the rest) is that being "rigid" in your faith is being considered a fault! Since when does having principles and standards mean that you're too rigid?

Thank God for HSLDA.

Anonymous said...

HSLDA - absolutely!!!
And also - while you are at it - check out parentalrights.org and learn everything about the UN and the Convention on the Rights of the Child - also called UNCRC.
This Convention was signed under Clinton and just needs ratification by Congress. Our Secretary of State will make sure that this will happen.

One of the scariest parts of this Convention is its power to override certain state laws - http://www.parentalrights.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={B56D7393-E583-4658-85E6-C1974B1A57F8}
(check the 4th and 7th bullet points on that)

Mercy!
Mum26

The Dutchman said...

I think the first comment is correct,the problem is the divorce. I mean, it's not as if the state were interfering with a couple who were agreed on how to raise their daughter, the state was merely adjudicating a disagreement between two parties, which is exactly what the civil courts are for.

Irenaeus said...

Yeah, but ajudicated *wrongly*.

I would ask, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot happened to "Live Free or Die"?

dcs said...

Wait, does the father want to see his daughter in public school as opposed to home school? I've read the linked articles and somehow that question is never answered. It could be that the court is simply agreeing with the father.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that divorce is a huge problem and that it gives courts an opportunity to get involved in family matters that it otherwise would not need to be in, I think this is more related to our society's systematic way of indoctrinating relativism. It is as if the state, which according to the separation of religion and state, ought to stay out of the faith formation of children, is saying to the parent, "its fine for you to believe whatever you want to, but we don't want you teaching it to your children. if they happen to want to believe it, too, they'll somehow have to find a way to defend it according to our plan for their education." i don't understand how the government can inflict that relativism on others if they claim to uphold separation. relativism is a problem imposed upon religions in our day and age. its not a separation from religion but a roadblock to authentically living ones faith.

Sebastian S. said...

"Live free or die" - soon it might be necessary to take the second option.

I see the girl (and here mother) as martyrs of sorts in this situation. While I agree all this it is frightful, I also believe that God can do great things through this situation. A girl with a strong faith dropped into a secular milieu might bring great catalysis her peers and teachers (or they might eat her up - I pray the first option happens).

larrysinternetsoapbox said...

Here we go people! A line in the sand has been drawn and the gauntlet thrown down.

First of all if you're a believer you'd better start praying for all those involved, especially for the little girl caught in the middle of a nasty divorce.

Second we need to petition the court to reconsider it's decision. We just can't roll over on this one folks. It's crunch time!

SherryTex said...

Look for this application to be used to club Catholic schools next.

Being in a homogenous group environment where everyone believes the same faith...why, they don't get to solve problems or critically evaluate multiple systems of behavior!

I'm sorry, your child is becoming too self aware and too intellegent and too educated but don't worry, we can fix that. The courts and the school system are not supposed to provide equity of faith or lack thereof, outcomes!

The real injury is to the family, wherein the fate of the child is being ping ponged between the parents.

Steve and Cindy Willmot said...

There is so much to comment on here. Divorce is the issue here. But it also seems that a marriage with one Christian parent and one non-Christian parent is also a contributing factor. We talk about these issues in our blog. Stop buy and check us out. www.judiciouschristianparenting.blogspot.com

Brandon Jaloway said...

So, what is going to happen to this judge? Nothing? Why?

Anonymous said...

Even granting that the matter of divorce gives the Court jurisdiction in this matter, presumably the Court is likewise still bound, in rendering judgment, by Constitutional constraints. How does this ruling pass the "nor prohibit the free exercise" clause of the Constitution regarding religion? If Congress can pass no law in this regard, how can a Court make a binding ruling which effects the same?

The questions are not simply rhetorical: it would be helpful to me if anyone with legal expertise can comment.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see this story getting more attention. I wasn't shocked when I first saw it, just saddened.

One of the Prime difficulties is SOCIAL SERVICES. For 30 years I advised, Stay of of SS's sight, esp. Child Protective Services!

Remember, liberal (biased) college professors, teach (oximoron) impressionable young people, to be biased, self-rightous cogs in goverment agencies. Okay, not all of them but way too many.

Been there, done that, worked there...scary! Prayers, JMJ help us.

Anonymous said...

Everybody here thanking god for HSLDA obviously has no understanding of what HSLDA does. They avoid divorce cases like the plague. The parents can't or won't come to a reasonable solution on their own, so the state had to adjudicate. And the state decided that the state's schools were the best option. Wow, that's just a shocking outcome.

As stated by several others, this is a divorce issue, not a homeschooling issue.

Anonymous said...

It's great that there's a court willing to stand up to religious isolationism.

I believe that there's much to be gained with home schooling but it shouldn't be used to isolate children from a wider world view. It can be quite damaging.

Home schooling should be about knowledge. Not about teaching religion.

(Especially since it's all just myth, conjecture, and made up nonsense, loosely related to a moral argument that we should all be nice to each other)

James said...

Anonymous 4:19 If you read the article completely, you would know the child is NOT being issolated from the world, she attends community activities etc
and
we will pray for you as you have yet to find Truth.

Amy said...

Two words:

Civil disobedience.

Let me repeat that, emphatically:

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

You don't have to obey laws that are unjust. This ruling is. The First Amendment makes no exceptions whatsoever - this girl has a right to express her faith as a 10 year old and, if she disagrees with her mother later, as an adult.

Because the same people who say the girl can't really consent to making choices of faith will turn around and either a) say she can consent to having some school nurse or PP rep give her birth control; b) consent to sexual activity; c) consent to an abortion without her parents' knowledge or consent.

Don't listen. Just ignore them. Don't engage the anti-rights folks (like Anon 4:19). Ignore them. Do what is right and just and defy those who would take away your right to be a parent and your right to educate your child as you see fit.

dcs said...

How does this ruling pass the "nor prohibit the free exercise" clause of the Constitution regarding religion?

It can if the father believes his daughter's religious beliefs to be "too rigid".

Do what is right and just and defy those who would take away your right to be a parent and your right to educate your child as you see fit.

The father has rights too and for the court there is no compelling reason to prefer the mother over the father. The fact that the mother is religious and the father is not, apparently, is not reason enough for the court to take her side in this matter. And this is not an attack on religious liberty - it is the consequence of religious liberty. If we had a confessional State there would be no question of which parent the court would favor. But we don't, so the court must view all religions, including atheism/agnosticism, as equal.

crusader88 said...

This is really sad. So much for Free State New Hampshire.

craig said...

I'm fairly certain the child will be able to survive the trauma of having to deal with the world that exists outside of her home.

Sarah said...

Sure, the child will survive, and the father's will should be recognized too, but is there any practical reason to take this child out of home schooling?

The court admitted openly that the child had made excellent progress for someone her age and did not seem to have any issues with socialization. So, if this child is a bright student and of respectable behavior, what is wrong with continuning her in the path she has been before?

The problem, according to the court, was that she was TOO RELIGIOUS. As someone previously said, this is a non-confessional State, therefore the State has no right to determine for a child what is too religious or not. The only concerns of the State should be the health and educational well being of this child, especially since the child seems, by the court's own admission, a well socialized child.

One would think that the court would uphold the Constitution and not stick its nose in someone's religious convictions...

Matthew Siekierski said...

I agree with Sarah. The way I see it, the problem doesn't come from the court making a decision in such a case, given that there are different desires by the two parents (although I would question, then, who has legal custody of the child, and therefore should be the primary person to make such decisions). Nor is the decision itself a problem.

No, the problem is the reasoning behind the decision. The court said that the child was too religious. Excuse me? If the basis of the decision was failure to perform, lack of additional activities that would be available in public schools, or any other rational basis involving EDUCATION, then that'd be one thing. But "too religious"? That is not something that should have been a factor in the court's decision, not by a long shot.

I know this is a stretch, but what if a child in a public school is instilled with a great love of country, is extremely proud of the US, supports the good works of this country, and can defend the country against defamation? What if that child has one parent (divorced from the other) from a country that is very much anti-US? Should the child then be sent to a school elsewhere where she can learn about how evil the US is, and how other countries are so much better than the US? Should Amanda be forced to go to a terrorist training camp so as to get a more diverse education?

Anonymous said...

This is HORRIBLE!! I am going to write to the judges and complain. I suggest that everybody else do the same. I pray that God will make this child very, very, VERY strong in the faith to where she is grounded and settled in such a way that she will not be shaken no matter what other "points of view" are thrust upon her. This is the work of Satan. We can't be quiet about this.

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